Low Home Inventory: Why It’s Important to Have a Well-Connected Real Estate Agent

Do you often think to yourself, “Boy, I sure have a lot of extra time and extra money to waste”? If you, like basically everyone else looking to buy or sell a home, want to maximize your investment and minimize the time and stress involved in your real estate transaction, then the first and perhaps most important step is to find your agent. Preferably an experienced, well-connected agent!

This practical guide to real estate agent skills and responsibilities will help you choose an agent capable of delivering tangible results in the most efficient, effective manner. In a competitive market, relying solely on old-school information from sources such as MLS databases or word of mouth is not going to get you the best possible results.  

Real Estate Agent Skills: Marketing Matters

If you are selling your property, then a big part of your real estate agent’s responsibilities should include a comprehensive marketing plan. This is needed to maximize your listing’s exposure to prospective buyers.

A few key components of your agent’s marketing strategy should include:

  • 1. Home staging to maximize visual appeal and desirability — not required, but recommended if your time-frame and finances allow
  • 2. High-quality, professional photographs utilized in digital and direct advertising campaigns
  • 3. Virtual tours to offer convenience to both the buyer and the seller
  • 4. Open houses that are strategically scheduled and well-promoted

The success of these marketing initiatives is largely correlated to how well-connected your agent is. What good are shiny new photographs or beautifully staged open houses if the right eyes don’t see them?

The same goes for the other side of the coin, too. If you’re on the hunt for your next home or investment property, a well-connected agent is an absolute must. This is especially true in a low-inventory market as exists in Orange County. Your agent will be vital in helping you find exactly what you’re looking for, and making a strategic offer before the listing is scooped up by your competition. 

A savvy real estate agent also understands that the best marketing campaigns don’t only showcase their properties; they also showcase the agent. If you’ve lived in your community for a while, what names come to mind when you think of real estate? Chances are that if they stand out in your mind, they stand out in the minds of others, too. Take note — this is a sign of a well-connected agent. 

The Importance of Relationships with Other Industry Professionals

Put simply, the more well-connected an agent is, the more resources they have at hand to offer you.

Your real estate agent should have a broad network of industry connections to streamline the entire buying or selling process from start to finish. This includes different industry professionals and services, such as attorneys, mortgage brokers and lenders, inspectors, contractors, appraisers, stagers, painters, moving companies and more.

It will save you a wealth of time to have referrals to reputable, high-quality service providers that you’ll need rather than having to seek out each from scratch. At the Stavros Group, we go the extra mile by scheduling and coordinating all the vendors and their work, while you sit back and relax.

The most important industry connections for a successful real estate agent are with other agents. Whether they are within your own team or brokerage or community, other local agents can serve as your eyes and ears, your “boots on the ground.” They can provide valuable feedback after showing the home, and close agent relationships are particularly helpful when trying to buy or sell an off-market property. Agents talk and share information about current active and upcoming listings. This information is absolutely invaluable.

In a low-inventory, fast-paced real estate market, an agent who is well-connected with other agents can make the difference between securing the property of your dreams or missing out on it entirely. Every agent has a style and a process, so it’s helpful to hire an agent who both knows his or her colleagues well, and is held in high regard by the real estate community. These seemingly small professional connections can make all the difference in your transaction.

The Role of Relationships Within the Community

An in-depth understanding of the local community enables your real estate agent to effectively match your needs to the most suitable properties. This applies to things like desired neighborhoods, proximity to particular amenities, schools and more. A well-connected agent is especially helpful if you are not very familiar with the neighborhoods where you’d like to buy a home. 

As recently described in Forbes, “there is no way to put a monetary value on the expert advice of an agent who actually lives and breathes real estate in the neighborhood their business is focused on.”

A real estate agent creates an ecosystem of trust and communication through a strong presence and good rapport with other local businesses, organizations and professionals. They are able to cultivate valuable word-of-mouth referrals and connections, all of which helps in making your transaction a quicker and more successful endeavor.

Never Underestimate the Power of the Internet 

To be a well-connected real estate agent these days means being active across a multitude of social media platforms. We’re talking Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter, Pinterest… the more, the merrier!

But it’s not just about your agent’s number of social media followers; even more important is their responsiveness and online activity. Are they posting regularly and staying at the top of the feed? Do they reply to tags, comments, and questions? This sort of online etiquette is akin to responding to phone calls and emails. It contributes to (or detracts from) an agent’s overall reputation. 

Are You Looking for an Agent Who Ticks All the Boxes? 

Real estate agent skills and duties are expansive and varied. Picking the right, well-connected real estate agent to work with can truly be a make-or-break moment for your entire buying or selling process. 

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach. A real estate agent’s role is multifaceted, but it should always include an expansive network of industry and community connections. 

If are considering buying or selling a home in the Orange County area, connect with us. See how our local, experienced and well-connected team can exceed your expectations. Let’s talk strategy! 

How to Spruce Up Your Garden Before Selling

In 2020 alone, Americans purchased more than 5.6 million existing homes. Considering the unusual circumstances and rocky start of 2020’s real estate market, the uptick in home sales came as a bit of a surprise. As of mid-2021, we’ve seen a huge surge in home buying across the country, and sellers are enjoying significantly higher sale prices. If you are thinking of selling your home to capitalize on the hot market, it’s a good idea to make some repairs and improvements to get top dollar offers.

For some, that means bringing in professionals for a big renovation. For many others, that means a less-intrusive combination of smaller interior and exterior projects that you can likely handle at least partially by yourself. One of the easiest and best ways to boost your home’s value is landscaping, which increases curb appeal as the first thing prospective buyers see. The best thing is a garden update is relatively cheap, and you can do it yourself with a bit of elbow grease!

So, are you interested in gardening tips and tricks you can use before selling your home? Keep reading for our top picks to get your home’s exterior and landscaping in selling shape.

1. Deep Cleaning

From built-up grime, to dirt and mud, to scruff from kids and pets, your home’s exterior can easily become a mess. Just think: when was the last time you cleaned your exterior walls?

In a pinch, a garden hose with good water pressure will do for knocking dust and grass clippings off walls and pavers.

But if you really want a thorough clean, a power washer is the ticket. The super-pressured stream of water works wonders to peel away the layers of dirt and grime that accumulate over years of use.

Pay special attention to your walkways, since you might spot broken paver stones or cracked bricks that you can then replace.

2. Update Based on Your Environment

One of many benefits to owning a home is that it’s up to you what to grow outside. Many ecologists recommend installing plant species that are native to your region, which helps your landscaping thrive and helps you save on irrigation in dry climates. If you’re moving from the rainy Northwest or East Coast to the arid Southwest, planting the flora that you’re used to seeing may not work out very well.

The best course of action is to update your planters and garden with region-friendly plants, such as common drought-resistant plants for the Southwest. Not only does this ensure that you won’t waste time, money and water, but it also means your home’s exterior will make sense in the context of the local environment.

3. Trim Your Trees and Shrubs

A big one on the list of gardening tips before selling a home, and for home gardening in general, is taking care of trees and shrubs. An unhealthy tree or large plant, with dead or damaged limbs, can drag down your home’s curb appeal and turn off potential buyers.

Beyond that, poorly trimmed shrubs and trees can make the plants unhealthy as they spend extra effort to maintain parts that would be better served pruned.

On the flipside, neatly trimmed trees and shrubs send the message that you’re a conscientious homeowner, which bodes well for the rest of their tour through your home for sale.

4. Ditch the Ornaments

Personal style is all well and good, but it’s not recommended when the time comes to sell your home to someone else. As pleasant as they can be, not everyone loves wind chimes. Certainly not everyone loves garden gnomes or the magic-looking orbs sold at Home Depot and Amazon.

Point is, when you are prepping your home to hit the market, it’s highly recommended that you minimize the decor, especially things that may appeal to only certain tastes. For the best results, you want your listing to appeal to the widest swath of prospective, qualified and likely homebuyers. So, pack up the gnomes until you’ve moved on to your next adventure!

5. Embrace the Mulch

Whether you’re a beginner gardener or a talented green thumb, mulch is your friend. Mulch serves to trap in moisture after you water your plants, it prevents weeds and other things you didn’t ask for from growing, and it makes sections of your landscape look nice and neat wherever plants aren’t growing.

Mulch is cheap, easy to place, and gives your garden a clean and ordered look that will appeal to almost every buyer. Embrace the mulch!

6. Simplify

Some homeowners love a complex garden, filled with numerous assorted plant species that often require tender, individualized care. Trouble is, not everyone knows how to take care of plants, or wants to learn for that matter.

Now, if your garden is already beautiful and well-kept, there’s no need to make big changes before listing your home for sale. But if you are planning to spend money to refresh your home’s exterior before hitting the market, it’s a good idea not to go too wild. Keep it simple enough for buyers of all kinds — gardening-inclined and otherwise — to feel comfortable with the space.

If you know you’ll sell this year, work on a simplified garden plan that reduces the total plant species to a less imposing number. If possible, use plants that come with similar care requirements. You can use that as a selling point when it’s time to list, as it means a lot less work for the future owner.

7. Good Fences Makes for Happy Buyers

Fences aren’t technically part of your garden, but as a visual backdrop they are a key piece of the exterior puzzle, like a frame for a painting or photograph. Much like a shoddy, beat-up frame will detract from even the most elegant image, a rough fence will distract from the garden.

Before you get serious about selling your house, give the fences some attention. If possible, give them a fresh coat of paint or stain, and consider making repairs if sections of your fence are in worse shape.

8. De-Kid the Garden Area

This one depends on your community and potential buyer pool. If your home is located in a hot area of town where buyers may be younger and enticed by walking distance to nightlife and bars, then your potential buyer pool may be less enticed by a swing set or other play equipment on the lawn. Since you’re moving anyways, consider packing up the play set and moving it to temporary storage along with your other non-essential items.

If your home is in an area that appeals to young families, then the reverse is true. You can even consider making a play set optionally included in the sale, if you’d rather not break it down and move it with you.

9. Tidy Up

With landscaping, trees and shrubbery comes leaves, leaves and more leaves. Depending on the season, you may have more or less detritus littering your landscape, but inevitably there’s some on the ground at any time of year.

Before you start to host showings at your listing, head outside with a rake and tidy up all the plant refuse in your yard, plus any tools or unsightly items left over from landscaping, painting, etc. Just like the inside of your home, the outside should look neat and cared for before buyers have a look.

Gardening Tips and Tricks for Selling Your Home

Preparing your home for sale can be a big undertaking, but only getting your interior shape is not enough. Your home’s exterior is the first thing buyers will see, and there is added emphasis these days on outdoor living space. That’s why we compiled these gardening tips to help your home attract more interest and sell for the highest possible price.

At the Stavros Group, we’ve helped countless Orange County homeowners to sell for top dollar, and we have a broad professional network of trusted vendors who we utilize to take the heavy listing of home prep off your hands. It’s all part of our proven plan to help sell your Laguna Beach, Orange County or Newport Beach home without leaving money on the table. If you are considering selling your home, get in touch to start the no-pressure conversation and discuss your options.

Pop of Pantone: Decorate With 2021’s Colors of the Year

choosing a paint color for house exterior, facade

Pantone, the company known worldwide for color expertise, released an annual color of the year (or colors of the year in 2021). In addition to helping companies like designers and manufacturers to define and control color, Pantone’s color guides and documentation help regular homeowners to pick a style that fits with their own sense of decor. This year, Pantone released “joint colors” for just the second time, in their colors of the year for 2021. (The last time colors of the year come in pairs was in 2016 with Rose Quartz and Serenity.)

So let’s get right down to it. What are 2021’s Pantone colors of the year?

Discover: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating.

According to Pantone, the message of these shades is of strength and positivity. In this pair of hues, Pantone aimed to encapsulate hopefulness, energy, and clarity, a fresh look after a tough and uncertain year in 2020. Sounds nice, no?

Well, iIf you’re interested in adding a dash of positivity to your home’s decor, Ultimate Gray and Illuminating are a great option. For some interesting and effective ways to use these colors throughout your house, read on!

On the Table

Yellow and gray are a popular color pair, and it’s easy to see why. Yellow’s vibrancy adds life and joy to the subtle, calming nature of gray, and each works well in small doses too.

Even without any paint, you can bring yellow into your home. Real or artificial sunflowers, tulips and daffodils can add a happy touch to a living space. Even a decorative bowl of lemons on the table does the trick. Taking some inspiration from the Pantone colors of the year, try putting them in a gray vase or bowl for an eye-pleasing contrast.

In the Bathroom

Look, bathrooms aren’t the most exciting part of the house. Most folks have a lot more fun in the kitchen, family room… you name it, really. So how ‘bout some color to bring your bathroom to life? Especially in a small space, a pop of color can make a big difference and create the illusion of size and scale.

If you’re still unsure about the colors you want, whether that’s Pantone’s gray and yellow combo or something else, start small. Don’t go painting a full wall right away, just get a little decoration and see what you think!

For instance, you can display a combination of yellow and gray hand towels, a yellow shower curtain, gray bath mats. It adds that wow factor while being temporary — ie. low or no commitment. When you’re tired of the combination, change them out. This strategy is perfect when changing decor for each season or just on a whim, and it works particularly well with neutral wall paint as a backdrop. 

In the Bedroom

A bedroom should be comforting and calm, whether it’s a huge primary suite with a balcony and fireplace, or just a smaller spot to sleep. For an added touch of happy energy when you wake up in the morning, try incorporating yellow throughout the bedroom. A subtle, less-flashy yellow can even be nice as sheets or wall colors. 

For a dose of calm, Ultimate Gray is the ticket. More modern looks are also available in darker shades of gray, like sleek charcoal and steel.

In Furniture

Go big or go home, right? Bright yellow chairs love to stand out and offer a super cute and vintage vibe. On the flip side, a charcoal gray lamp adds a bit of modern bite to your design. 

If you’re daring, how about a yellow sofa? A statement piece like this can serve as a focal point in the living room or a nice addition to a large bedroom. Find a contrasting gray designer wallpaper as an accent wall, or gray curtains to balance the brightness.

As Art

Perhaps the easiest, tried-and-true method of adding color to your home is art. Posters, paintings, photos, sculpture and more can all add interest without being overwhelming (and being easily interchangeable). 

If you are a budding artist yourself, try creating a gallery wall of alternating yellow and gray DIY artwork. It’s a fun learning activity for kids and adults. 

Your Front Door

There are two ways you can include Ultimate Gray and Illuminating for the front door. The simplest way is with a wreath, adding a dash of color on your home’s facade. 

The other way is with paint. Be bold and paint your door yellow! And to mimic the Pantone-approved color pair for ultimate curb appeal, you can add some gray by switching out hardware like the handle and deadbolt lock.

Outdoor Space

To transform your outdoor living space, try a gray outdoor furniture set offset by yellow cushions and pillows. It’s a sure way to brighten a dreary deck or drab backyard. 

Or, instead of investing in new outdoor furniture, you can decorate with colorful accessories like stools, lanterns and end tables. Candles are also an easy way to add yellow or gray without going overboard or breaking the bank!

In the Kitchen

We spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so making it a “happy place” is a top priority. If you’re up for taking a big leap, try painting your kitchen cabinets a cheery yellow! If that seems like too much, there are very colorful and easily applied peel-and-stick backsplash tiles that might be just right for your design. 

If that all seems like too much work, you can add some colorful appliances, vases and kitchenware.  Gray tea kettle? Meet yellow mixer. And don’t forget about towels! Textiles like dish towels and aprons are amazing opportunities to add color that is interchangeable any time.

In the Nursery

Blue and pink may be standard fare for a nursery, but in recent years new parents have expanded their vocabulary of baby-room color. As an added bonus, you can paint the room ahead of time when you’re not trying to match color with your new baby’s gender. 

Pantone’s yellow/gray combo is an easy, soothing palette for both baby and parents to love. The gray is calming while yellow warms it up.

And, as your little one grows, you don’t have to worry about repainting or redecorating. It’s a color combination for all ages.

On the Floors

Whether it’s in the bedroom, living room, bathroom or kitchen, you can spruce up any area with a good rug or two. Expert designers even overlay area rugs for a bohemian, contrasting look. 

Since we’re talking about contrast, did we mention Pantone’s yellow and gray? There’s an idea to instantly liven up a space.

On the Walls

When you think of design, you probably think of walls first: art, paint, wallpaper, paneling, moldings and more. There’s a huge variety of options for wall decor, allowing you to get extra creative with it to make a smaller feature wall or cover whole swaths of your home’s interior.

For an accent wall in a larger space, try fresh paint or wallpaper to add some visual contrast. Patterns and texture really heighten the appeal, whether that’s designer wallpaper, painted wood paneling, or a molded plastic art form that you buy and install. Tiles are also a way to add interest at a relatively low cost. 

As Lights

Lighting truly makes the home, from natural light to your installed light fixtures. While it’s not so easy to knock out a wall to add a new window, installing new light fixtures can be a cheap and very effective way to bring light and contemporary design into a room all at once.

If you’re going with the gray and yellow look, you can try gray sconces flanking a headboard in the bedroom, and subtle, cheerful yellow sheets. In a dining room or kitchen, a pendant light on the wall can make a big difference too.

As Books

Now, books are primarily for reading, but displaying them on a shelf means they’re part of the scenery too. Got some empty bookshelf space? Head to a local used bookstore or thrift shop to find colorfully bound books that will enhance your shelves and the whole room.

Even if you’re not a big reader, books and candles are a classic adornment for shelves. Who knows… maybe you’ll even get around to reading the decorations. 

As Small Details

Gray and yellow are a proven color pair, but it can still be easy to get carried away and end up with a weird-looking living room. The best way to go is to start small, and use bright, eye-catching color sparingly so the room is not overwhelmed. 

Luckily, starting small is also the easiest thing to do! Just begin by adding in little colorful details like trinkets, pillows and throw blankets. See how you like the colors first, and reevaluate before you make bigger decisions.

Getting a Home Ready to Live in or Sell?

We hope this guide on decorating with Pantone Ultimate Gray and Illuminating has been a little bit of helpful fun. The truth is, when you decorate a home you own, the world is your oyster! It’s one of the many benefits of home ownership.

If you’re getting ready to sell your home, then you want to appeal to the broadest swath of potential, qualified and likely homebuyers. We’ve helped hundreds of Orange County home sellers to make the right staging and improvements that stay within budget and avoid leaving money on the table.

For more information on how the Stavros Group helps to get your home in top selling shape, please reach out any time to start the no-pressure conversation and discuss your options. We look forward to hearing from you!

10 Ways to Stage Your Home for the Feng Shui Buyer

In any real estate market, Orange County included, selling a home quickly and effectively comes down to two things. First, the home must be priced to sell. Second, the home must motivate buyers to submit an offer.

Pricing your home largely comes down to a comparison of other recently sold listings in the area. Sites like Zillow even provide an estimation of value with just a simple search. Of course, the best Orange County listing agents will consider many additional layers of strategy on top of that ballpark market analysis. They might even net you an extra 5 or 10 or 15% (a great achievement), but in most cases the estimated range is still within the same ballpark.

The second factor, motivating buyers, is less clear-cut. How do you maximize your home’s appeal? How do you cater to the type of buyers who are actively looking in your neighborhood? Who are they, anyways, and what do they like? Add to this the unfortunate fact that not everyone has a designer’s touch.

Well, that’s where we come in. At the Stavros Group, we have decades of experience in preparing and staging homes to squeeze out every possible penny from your transaction. We work with expert design professionals to handle all the logistics and minimize your stress throughout the process.

Today, we’re diving into some concepts that we consider when preparing a Orange County home for sale. In particular, these 10 basic staging tips reflect the Feng Shui principles that so many home buyers enjoy. Read on for 10 Feng Shui home staging tips!

1. Declutter or Move Out Entirely

One of the most important things you can do before staging your home is significantly decluttering and minimizing your possessions. If possible, we highly recommend moving out of the house. The less your presence is felt in the house, the easier it will be for prospective buyers to picture themselves living there. Not to mention it makes showings easier, with less involvement required from you, the seller.

If you can’t move out yet, we recommend renting a storage unit to store your things until you are able to move it into your new residence. One of the most essential Feng Shui tips to sell a house is to “depersonalize it.” Remove things like personal photos, certifications, awards, niche decor like religious or sports-related items, eccentric colors, and so on.

Neutralize your home for maximum appeal. That’s Feng Shui, and it’s good practice for real estate.

2. Take Care of Any Aesthetic Repairs and Updates

Next, you should plan to invest a little money in perfecting your home’s aesthetics. Don’t worry, we’re not talking about complete renovations, just small things that make a big difference. 

For example, replace old cabinet hardware like drawer pulls and handles for a more modern look. You can also update light fixtures, doorknobs, and anything else that makes the home feel out-of-date. 

Finally, make sure you take care of any superficial repairs, such as damaged trim, drywall, doors, weatherstripping, etc. The future buyer will know they’re in a home that’s cared-for and move-in ready. 

3. Thoroughly Clean the House

The Feng Shui-minded buyer will be completely turned off if they walk into a dirty home. Wouldn’t you be too? So, after the decluttering process and updates are complete, make sure to spend adequate time and elbow grease and give your house a thorough, deep cleaning. 

If you don’t have the time or abilities it takes to really dig in and do the job right, it’s very worthwhile to invest in a professional cleaning service. An ultra-clean home conveys a message of care, which buyers may presume extends to the rest of your tenure as homeowner. People want a home that has been well maintained, and bad smells or sights are a telltale sign of poor maintenance. Don’t let a simple lack of cleanliness scuttle your home sale!

4. Consider Hiring a Professional Home Stager

The numbers don’t lie. Staged homes sell as much as 87% faster than non-staged homes. Yes, it costs some extra cash, but it pays to present a beautiful, manicured space to prospective buyers.

To properly stage a home, it takes a designer’s eye and quality decor. If you have old, beat-up furniture, for example, staging your home won’t have the desired effect. You may love your old chair with well-worn indentations that perfectly conform to your shape, but that’s not doing anything for prospective buyers. Rule #1 of preparing a home for sale is putting yourself in the buyer’s shoes.

If you do have newer furniture and an keen eye for interior design, you may be able to save some dough and DIY the project. But for most folks, it’s often best to move out your things and let a professional home stager have their run of the place. Experience is key, and a full-time professional stager knows just how to appeal to the broadest range of buyers.

5. Perfect Your Curb Appeal

Whether it’s love at first sight or something less nice, first impressions matter. When a potential buyer pulls up to your home, their first impression is influenced by your home’s curb appeal, or what your home looks like from the street. Remember, the principles of good design and Feng Shui are just as important for your home’s exterior as the interior!

When they pull up to your home, buyers get the experience of coming home from work or activities, greeted by the view of your home’s facade and exterior space. What they see on the outside will inevitably color the way they see the rest, even in subtle and subconscious ways.

So, if your home’s exterior paint is fading or peeling, it’s time to add a new coat. If your yard is overgrown, it’s time for some yard care. Do everything you can to make the exterior of your home as inviting as possible. These simple cosmetic improvements are well worth the investment.

6. A Fresh Coat of Paint Goes a Long Way

Painting is one of the easiest steps in the home selling preparation process that will definitely boost your Feng Shui. First, a fresh coat of paint makes everything feel nicer, newer, crisp and clean. Take advantage of this relatively easy and inexpensive project to increase your home’s aesthetics.

With a steady hand, you can do it yourself. However, a professional painter will likely get more uniform results, and big spaces can take a good bit of time and effort. Consider whether you’d prefer to save time or money when making your decision.

When choosing your paint, it’s critical to keep the color tones neutral to appeal to a wider audience of buyers. Replace any vibrant or loud colors that don’t hold mass appeal (even if you love them, it’s about your target buyers!). Make sure you touch up painted trim pieces as well to make them pop.

7. Keep Things Open

One of the most important Feng Shui tips to stage your home is to make it feel open and spacious. Prospective buyers want to feel the flow of the house from one room to the next. Don’t set up furniture in a cluttered fashion, such that it blocks pathways or cuts off this essential flow through the space. 

Additionally, don’t back furniture all the way up against the walls. Though it may seem like it adds more space, having the furniture at least one foot off the wall will make the room feel more open and inviting. There’s no need to maximize an unnatural dead space in the middle of the room.

8. Incorporate Houseplants

One of the best things you can do when staging your home is fill it with lively green plantlife. The presence of indoor plants has been shown to make people feel better. Not only do plants aesthetically liven up a room, but they’ve also been linked to better focus, productivity, and moods.

9. Maximize Natural Light

Next, remember that lighting is ever-important. A dim or dark room feels closed-off, cold, and somewhat depressing. Therefore, to stage your home for maximum buyer interest, ensure that every area of your home has adequate lighting. 

We recommend letting in as much natural light as possible from your windows and any glass doors. In rooms with limited natural light, try bright, warm light bulbs to liven up the vibe. If a room’s overhead lighting is poor, you can always use lamps to make up the difference. 

10. Create an Amazing Buyer Experience

Finally, learning how to stage your home means assuming a buyer’s perspective for all their senses. As a buyer walks through your home, they aren’t just looking at it — they’re also smelling, touching and hearing.

Hopefully by now, you’ve cleaned up any odor-producing waste or spills as described in step three. This means making sure there are no pet smells or any other unpleasant odors lingering around. Many home sellers light a candle or bake cookies to enhance the homey feeling, but not everyone likes the same scents, so don’t go overboard.

To further stimulate the senses, soft music can be played in the background: jazz, classical, or other unintrusive styles are best.

Want More Advice on How to Sell and Stage Your Home?

Are you looking to sell your Orange County home?  If so, it’s helpful to know what to expect and how to maximize your investment. Even moreso, it also helps if you have the best real estate listing agent in Orange County. At the Stavros Group, we are expert marketers with a proven track record of preparing OC real estate to net the best return.

Visit our seller’s page to start the no-pressure conversation and tell us more about your situation. We can help expertly price your home and work with you throughout the entire home selling process. Questions about Orange County real estate? Contact us today and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

How Will Prop 22 Affect the California Real Estate Market?

When most people analyze the real estate market in a given area, they only look at the obvious factors. They consider home values, local schools and amenities, property taxes and so on. The reality is, however, that even minor societal or economic changes can be like stones falling in the pond of a community, sending their ripples through the real estate market and beyond.

One of those stones is Proposition 22 or Prop 22 for short. While the legislation itself has been widely discussed throughout California and the US, its impact on California real estate has not.

What Is Prop 22?

Proposition 22 is a California proposition that was passed by the state voters in 2020. It is the latest in a tug of war among the state’s leadership to decide how to handle the growing gig economy, especially as it pertains to freelance drivers for gig-based apps like Uber and Lyft.

In 2019, California passed Assembly Bill 5, or AB5. AB5 stated that all freelancers or independent contractors who performed more than a minimal amount of work for a company must be classified as employees.

This was meant to address the concern that companies take advantage of workers. Businesses label workers as contractors rather than employees, to avoid giving them benefits like health insurance, paid leave, and unemployment insurance.

However, the true effect this had in many cases was an inability for freelance workers to do their work and earn an income. Prop 22 is a compromise of sorts.

Prop 22 exempts app-based drivers, like rideshare and delivery drivers, from the AB5 employee classification. In exchange, it gives them other protections like minimum pay guarantees, health insurance in some circumstances, and compensation for on-the-job injuries.

How Will Prop 22 Impact the California Real Estate Market?

Proposition 22 has had a positive reception overall, as it offers some benefits for both contract drivers and their client companies. There are several ways it’s likely to impact the real estate market in the process.

Increased State Income Taxes

With the Prop 22 exemption, there are increased opportunities for contract drivers now that companies can “hire” more of them. This will lead to an overall increase in income because more people are making money this way. Because those drivers will pay state income taxes on the new income, the overall amount of income tax in California is expected to increase.

Analysts also expect that rideshare and delivery companies who hire these drivers will see stock price increases. When their investors sell those stocks, they will pay income taxes on the profits. This further adds to the increase in state income taxes.

This could affect real estate depending on how the state decides to spend that money. For instance, if the state invests the added tax revenue in new developments, real estate prices in that area will increase. Or real estate prices could decrease if the state unveils a new (and sorely needed) affordable housing program.

More Demand for Real Estate

While AB5 was meant to help gig workers, it sent a wave of fear through many in the freelance community. Many felt that they were overlooked or miscategorized in a way that would prevent them from continuing to operate as their own business. As a result, some either considered leaving or did leave California.

Because 36% of the US workforce does some amount of freelancing, we’re talking about significant numbers here. For many app-based drivers, Prop 22 puts them in a better position in California than they would be elsewhere. Not only can they keep operating independently, but they also get benefits they wouldn’t receive in other states.

The result is a higher population of earning adults, and that means a higher demand for real estate.

Shifts in the Landscape of Mortgages

Independent contractors aren’t only different from employees in the benefits they receive. Their income predictability is very different as well, and this affects their ability to receive mortgages.

Historically, contractors have had a more difficult time securing mortgages. Because their income is more varied, they need to provide long-term proof of income to qualify.

Now that we expect to see an increase in freelancing in California, this could go one of two ways. We could see a higher demand for rental properties because fewer people may be able to qualify for mortgages.

On the other hand, the number of contractors and freelancers in the US is expected to continue increasing overall. It is possible that we’ll see changes within the mortgage industry that accommodate this growing population of solopreneurs. 

More Overall Income

It’s important to note that the gig economy is not entirely made up of people who traded their 9-to-5 salaried job for independent contracting. In fact, many app-based drivers use driving to supplement their existing income.

Now that app-based gig work is a more available and an increasingly appealing option, we expect to see even more people taking advantage of it. This could lead to a higher average income in California.

For the real estate market, this would create a shift toward higher-priced properties. More people would have the income to afford these pricier homes, so the demand would increase.

Fewer Foreclosures and Short Sales

We’ve talked about people who use app-based driving as their primary income source and people who use it to supplement their income. There’s another common situation, though.

When people lose their jobs due to downsizing or other reasons, gig work can fill in the gaps. It’s fairly easy for most people to get work from app-based driving services, because the need is so high. They may not earn the same amount they did previously, but at least they have some income while they hunt for a new, more permanent job.

Now that this on-demand earning potential is so accessible, fewer people may find themselves without the income to pay their mortgages. The result, barring other factors, is fewer foreclosures and short sales on the real estate market.

Looking Ahead Thanks to Prop 22

The real estate market is always complicated, with countless factors coming into play. Prop 22 is only one of many. Fortunately, you don’t need to figure it all out on your own.

Contact our real estate team to discuss your options for buying or selling your home and the market circumstances you need to know.

Packing It Up: Tips and Tricks for a Stress-Free Move

Moving is a double-edged sword. While you probably can’t wait to get settled in your dream place and start a new chapter in your life, you also likely have a lot of stress and anxiety heading into the process.

With some tips for a stress-free move, you don’t have to worry about losing your head. The tips in this article will show you how you can guarantee a stress-free move.

1. Hire Some Professional Help

Hiring a professional can help get rid of the stress of a move. By leaving it to some pros, it is a lot easier to relax, since you won’t have to worry about putting together all of the pieces yourself.

Since this is what they do for a living, you also get more of a guarantee that the job will be done properly. This means not having to worry about items breaking or being mishandled during the move.

While it will cost you a bit of money, you can’t put a price tag on the peace and stress-relief that you get by hiring movers.

2. Get Your Move Started Early

Procrastination kills the dream!

Of course, it’s difficult to get excited about your move if you stress yourself out by waiting too long to get started. You will bring back the stresses of school all-nighters — and unnecessarily so.

You have plenty of time to plan out every part of your move. So start early and make it fun instead of anxiety-inducing.

3. Find the Right Supplies for the Move

If you’re going to plan a move, you also need to be sure you have the right supplies.

Start by finding boxes and other containers that will store all of the items you are moving. Choose boxes that are sturdy and not likely to crumble or allow your belongings to break. You can purchase quality moving boxes from your local hardware store.

You can also look into specialty containers, such as hard plastic containers. Buy boxes and containers that fit together like a puzzle, so it’s easy to arrange them in your truck.

4. Pack With Rhyme and Reason

Handling your move becomes easy and stress-free when you learn how to pack.

If you have a uniform way of packing things, it’s easier for you to get them on and off the truck. You will remember where things are, and this will make it easier for you to get set up at your new place.

Go room by room and get organized about the way you pack things up. By having a strategy, the move will be as stress-free as possible.

5. Organize and Schedule Your Move

It’s best to have a schedule for every part of your move. Set the dates on your calendar and give yourself plenty of time leading up to the move to pack things up, turn your utilities on in your new place, talk to some movers, and other parts of the move.

Scope out your new home as well to see if there are any traffic patterns you should know about. Get to know the neighborhood so you can figure out the best place to park so you can unload.

6. Make Use of Storage if You Need It

Having some rental storage space is also an excellent way to make your move easier. When you have storage, it gives you some time so that you don’t feel rushed with the move.

You can rent a storage unit while you are packing up your current home so that you can move into your new home little by little. Find a storage rental company that has affordable monthly rates, along with the best storage space for your needs.

7. Manage the Costs of Your Move

You need to handle the financial part of your move as well. A price tag that you have trouble affording is one of the biggest areas of stress when you’re moving.

The easiest way to manage your costs is to first figure out what you can do on your own, and what you need professional help with. If you are hiring any kind of professional help, you should get some price estimates from three different movers.

You should also shop for the most affordable moving equipment and supplies so the price doesn’t become too inflated.

8. Take off the Time That You Need

Don’t make the mistake of trying to do too much. Working a full work week right before or after a move can also make the move more stressful than it has to be.

Take some time off from work so you can plan out your move, go room by room, and check and double-check every part of it. You will thank yourself that you took time off when you can get a good night’s sleep before the move and have clear thoughts and low anxiety.

9. Get Help From Friends and Family

Don’t hesitate to lean on the help that friends and family members can provide. It would surprise you to see how much work you can get done when you have people by your side.

If you have kids, getting family members to watch them at certain parts of the move can also decrease stress because you’re only focusing on the task at hand — not the temperament of your little ones.

10. Breathe and Relax

Breathe! It’s easier to relax when you have your mind made up that you aren’t going to let stress get the best of you.

Control what you can control, and give yourself permission to just live in the moment and let the move play out how it’s supposed to.

Put Together a Stress-Free Move

You can enjoy a stress-free move when you follow these tips. Since moves can be one of the more stressful things that you do, you will be glad that you had these tips at your disposal.

We are happy to hear from you. Take time to connect with us when you need some real estate help.

What Does Proposition 19 Mean for Homeowners and First-Time Homebuyers?

Closeup of tax wooden blocks on mallet at table in courtroom

Property tax laws are changing in California.

Throughout the past year, the real estate housing market began slowing down, especially in the older demographic. Older people were less likely to buy or sell a home than younger generations.

Over the course of two years, the California Association of Realtors put together a plan known as Proposition 19 (or commonly, Prop 19). The overall goal of this proposition is to motivate older homeowners to buy and sell their property.

Prop 19 offers tax incentives to older California residents who buy a new home, but with these benefits come a few drawbacks. To balance the tax breaks of Prop 19, it includes higher property taxes for others.

Could you benefit from Proposition 19? Here’s what you need to know about California’s new Proposition 19.

 

What is Proposition 19?

Proposition 19 is a proposed tax change that Californians voted to approve in 2020. Two parts take effect on February 16th and April 1st of 2021.

The proposition offers a mix of tax changes designed to assist elderly individuals, some people living with disabilities, and natural disaster victims. Proposition 19 will also raise property taxes for those inheriting a second house to use as an investment property.

 

How Older Californians Will Benefit

California’s Proposition 19 proposes that seniors — those aged 55 and over — can receive a tax incentive when they buy a new home.

When you buy a new home, you’ll have to pay property taxes based on the home’s current value. If you buy a more expensive home, your property taxes will increase accordingly.

Proposition 19, however, waives this property tax increase for homebuyers who are 55 and older. Rather than having to pay a higher property tax for a new home, they can pay a much lower property tax. Starting April 1st, older residents have the opportunity to buy a home of equal or lesser value and enjoy the same tax benefits as their old home.

The reason behind this is to address the surge in prices and value. The longer you own a home, the more tax benefits you can enjoy from lower property taxes on its older assessed value. Your home may rise in value, but your property taxes and tax bills remain the same.

When you sell, you’ll likely earn a nice profit, but you’ll face higher property taxes and fees when you buy a new home at a higher assessed value. This is a major reason many older generations are hesitant to sell and move into a new home.

Proposition 19 will make buying and selling real estate an easier decision for older generations. Elderly homebuyers have an opportunity to buy a home and enjoy these tax benefits.

Another goal of Proposition 19 is to help alleviate the lack of housing for aging adults. Currently, there isn’t enough available senior housing to accommodate everyone. The ability to buy a new home at a lower tax value can help with this shortage.

 

What If Someone Buys a More Expensive House?

Do these property tax benefits extend to those buying a more expensive house? The answer is yes, but not it’s not as progressive as it would be if you bought a house of equal or lesser value than your current home.

Imagine you bought a house 30 years ago for $600,000 and today, you can sell it for $1 million. The new house you’re looking to buy costs $1.2 million.

When you buy this new home, your property tax will be based on the sum of your previous home’s old assessed property value, plus the difference between the sale price of your old home and the purchase price of the new home. The property tax value you’d pay would be $800,000 (ie. $600,000 + $1.2 million – $1 million).

This tax break has a limit of three uses. Buying and selling a fourth time will cause your property taxes to rise to today’s market value

 

Others Who’ll Benefit

Proposition 19 isn’t solely for assisting elderly people. Those living with severe disabilities, and those who lost their home in a natural disaster, can also benefit. Like seniors, those who survived natural disasters, such as earthquakes or wildfires, can enjoy many of the tax benefits offered by Proposition 19.

The additional tax revenue generated by Proposition 19 can help natural disaster victims, as well as generate funds to help fight wildfires.

Younger buyers, and the real estate industry as a whole, will also see benefits as more homes are put on the market that may previously have been held tight by seniors. Many real estate professionals throughout California and the country are supporting Proposition 19. But more than the benefits it offers to the health of the real estate market, many count on this new law to help Californians in need.

 

How Proposition 19 Balances the Tax Benefits

Unfortunately, Proposition 19 doesn’t conjure these tax advantages out of thin air. To balance the lower property tax on seniors who relocate, younger generations will have to pay higher property taxes on any home they inherit from their family. But only if they intend to keep the inherited home as a second house or a rental property.

Over the past ten years, children and grandchildren who inherited property from older family members benefited the most from California’s property tax laws. When they inherited a property, even as a second or third property, they could continue paying the same tax rates as their parents or grandparents, essentially locked in at a lower assessment.

This inspired many young beneficiaries to use the property as an investment. They could rent out the property at current market rates, while paying taxes based on an assessment that was anything but current.

Proposition 19 aims to eliminate this property tax break for those who plan to use the property as an investment. First time buyers who inherit a property and use it as their primary residence can continue paying the same tax rates as their parents.

Adjusting these tax breaks would generate enough tax money to offset the new tax breaks granted to the elderly, natural disaster survivors, and those with disabilities. This part of the Proposition took effect on February 16th, 2021.

 

Will Proposition 19 Affect You?

Proposition 19 aims to assist the elderly and others who need help in California, while also generating tax revenue for schools and natural disasters. If you are a senior looking to move, or a younger individual inheriting a home to live in, you can enjoy the benefits that Proposition 19 provides.

Have questions, or are you looking to buy or sell a home? Let us know! We’re happy to help you and anyone you send our way to make the most of your real estate goals.

How to Boost Your Listing’s Winter Curb Appeal

Though the weather outside is frightful, selling your home in the winter actually isn’t so bad! The real estate market in winter months — particularly in December and January — is typically a scaled-down version of the rest of the year. Buyers and sellers with time to spare tend to put their real estate plans on hold for the holidays. With fewer properties on the market and fewer buyers house-hunting during these times, your listing is more likely to stand out and become a prime target for the buyers who are actively looking.

So, while there is plenty of opportunity to buy or sell in the spring, summer and fall, you’re not out of luck in the winter! The real question is: how do you keep your home looking great during gloomy, rainy, or even snowy weather?

The trick is to increase your curb appeal, and it’s easier than you think! Keep on reading for our must-know tips to improve your winter curb appeal. 

Remove Clutter

The easiest and most cost-efficient way to improve your winter curb appeal is to tidy up and declutter your yard. Even the neatest of homes on the inside can quickly accumulate leaves, debris, junk and other items outside that might turn off potential buyers. As a home seller, you want buyers to have a great impression of your home as soon as they arrive, so curb appeal is critical!

Any items that are looking weathered, such as children’s play items, outdoor seating, or exterior features like an old, busted fountain should be thrown out or put in storage. If the items can’t be removed, or if you don’t have the necessary storage space, then you should still spruce them up as best you can.

Any wooden areas, such as decking, may require new treatments. Replace broken panels, sand the area, and treat it with wood stain. For best results, take a look at your exterior before winter weather kicks in. Repairs are easier when it’s nicer outside, and you definitely don’t want to trap moisture in your wood. 

Finally, clear your yard of natural debris and detritus. Rake those pesky autumn leaves into a large pile, cut off any dead branches hanging from trees on your property, and remove unsightly plants that have overstayed their welcome. Tidying up your yard goes a long way to boost that ever-important curb appeal. 

Give Them a Warm Welcome

Now that your yard is neat and tidy, have a look at your front entryway. Does it beckon potential buyers to come inside and explore your home?

One way to make your home more inviting is to spruce up your front door. If your current door is looking weathered or displays a drab color of paint, consider restoring it with a vibrant color like a rich red or green. It will look fresh and welcoming, and add to the appeal of your home’s facade.

You can also enhance your entryway by adding some new fittings. Install a charming door knocker, or if “‘tis the season,” decorate the door with some holiday cheer. This will inspire buyers with the look of a warm, family home. Keep in mind that you want your home to appeal to any and every potential buyer, so overly religious or otherwise personal motifs should be avoided. But a nice, wintery wreath will be loved by all but the Grinch-iest visitors!

Switch Out the Mailbox and Signage

When it comes to curb appeal, the devil is in the details. Unlike inside of your home, where staging and fresh paint can express elegant style throughout your floor plan and walls, exterior fixtures and fittings are not so abundant. The easiest and cheapest exterior fixtures to improve are your mailbox and signage. 

When you replace your mailbox, select one that complements the architectural style of your home. If you have a grand colonial setting, then go for something that fits with it. If you have a sleek, modern home built from glass and concrete, pick something that supplements that style. These little details add to an overall tapestry that buyers experience when they visit your property.

Additionally, if you repainted your front door like we suggested above, try and match the mailbox to the color of your front door. Pick bright and cheerful shades to add color that might otherwise be lacking due to the season.

Signage on your home’s exterior is another opportunity to add some flavor. You can update your street numbers, whether they’re on your mailbox or on your home’s facade. An embossed plate can also add a cute message, like “Welcome Home.” Whatever you choose, pick something unique that complements the theme of your home. These will be the first features that buyers see from the street, and first impressions count!

Add Some Evening Lighting

Lighting a home’s exterior is easy, but really doing it well requires some talent and tact. Too much evening lighting can make your house look brash and cause the facade to have a spaceship-like glow. (And it probably won’t make the neighbors very happy!) On the other hand, tasteful evening lights can accentuate your home’s best features and make it look beautiful for more hours of the day. 

Exterior lighting can be placed on your exterior walls, amidst your landscaping, or on features like your mailbox. Lanterns and sconces add a warm touch, and they’re extra helpful if you have a long, dark driveway. If you go that route, metal lanterns will be more durable than other materials which may weather easily. With the right paint, you can even tailor your new lights to match your siding, front door, and mailbox. 

Go Evergreen With Your Curb Appeal

Not all plants wither and die in winter weather. In fact, there are a number of evergreen plants and foliage options that stay green all year round. Some plants even thrive in winter conditions. 

Placing these hearty plants in your garden will give it a lush, well-kept appearance. Find some plants that flower in winter and place them in pots, so you can leave them outside to greet buyers with a touch of color. If you have extra space in your yard, you can even plant some winter-friendly trees. 

Make Paths and Driveways Clear

In addition to clearing the yard, make sure that your driveway and walking paths look clean and pristine. These are the sections that will draw the eye up to the property — particularly if they are cracked or marred. If your hardscape is cluttered, messy, or damaged, it will leave a bad impression before buyers even step foot into your home.

To get your hardscape in shape, clear any dirt and foliage that has found its way onto your driveway and paths. If you need to trim back live foliage, have at it! The walkway must be clear for all to see, and it makes your home more accessible too. Buyers don’t want to feel like they’re trekking through the outback as they make their way to your front door. 

After a good cleaning, repair any damage to paths and drives. This may involve calling in a professional for repair or replacement. It can be hard and heavy work. Additionally, if any weeds or plants are making walkways unsightly, trim them back or take them out entirely. 

Get Help from the Real Estate Experts 

Once you have increased your curb appeal with these handy tips, you just need to get the buyers visiting your home! The best way to do this is with the help of an expert real estate agent who understands your neighborhood and local real estate market. 

If you are buying or selling real estate in Orange County, then Stavros Group are your trusted advisers. We specialize in residential and investment properties in Orange County, and we bring a wealth of experience to all of our work. Contact us today to start the no-pressure conversation, and let’s talk strategy!

How to Increase Your Home Value With a Remodel That You Still Love

Homeownership is one of the fastest, safest ways to develop wealth in the United States. In almost every case, over a long enough time, your home will accrue additional value. Homeownership is a great investment — particularly since you need somewhere to live anyways!

On top of normal market appreciation, you can also increase your home’s value through remodeling, renovation, upgrades and repairs. But if you spend many thousands of dollars on home improvements to make everything modern and chic, will you still feel like it’s your own safe haven?

A house has many non-monetary benefits that you can consciously grow as you make updates and improvements. The challenge is to add to the value of your house without sterilizing it and stripping it of its homey feel.

In this article, we’ll explore a few ways for you to strike the perfect balance between trendy and comfy. We hope this will help you to boost your home’s value while maintaining what you already love about it. 

Read on to learn how thoughtful and strategic renovations can increase your home value!

Increase Your Home Value Without Losing Its Personality

It seems strange that making improvements to your home could make the home less comfortable to live in. You’d think that any improvement would automatically make things a little more comfortable. 

That said, whatever it is that makes a house a home can get lost in that storm of drywall, hammers, hardware and contractors. 

The first thing to do before you start renovations is take an account of what you think gives your house its unique quality. What do you love about your house? What could you do without?

What Makes Your House Home?

Look around your home and ask yourself what parts make you happy. Do the creaky floorboards really add to the ambience? Does the rattle of your screen door help to welcome you home?

How about the knobs on the kitchen cabinets? Surely those can go, right?

A collection of small things, the little details, are what give a home it’s personality. Those details are often found throughout the house. Bad floorboards in one room may foretell flooring problems elsewhere.

Once you’ve figured out what it is that you like, ask yourself what you’d be willing to change. There are bound to be some sore spots around the house, maybe some that have bothered you since day-one. Those issues would probably bother a potential buyer down the line, so they are a great opportunity to start thinking about possibilities for improvement. 

Before you call up a contractor, take an inventory of what you like and dislike about your home. Certain repairs and upgrades add more value than others: kitchens, bathrooms and flooring, in particular, tend to recoup the most investment when it comes time to sell. You might find that fixing those creaky floorboards could add thousands of dollars to your sale price. 

Renovate to Complement the Existing Home

It’s all too easy to select new features for your home without considering how they’ll fit into the grand scheme of things. 

You might see a nice bathroom fixture in a magazine and start imagining it in your own. The same could be said for just about anything that gets advertised and glamorized. 

This is where we lose hominess: When you force an expensive addition into a home where it doesn’t fit, and the entire vibe is thrown off. Renovations can improve the enjoyment you get from your home, if they’re chosen correctly, or they can easily also be a misguided and expensive effort.

A lot of these decisions are up to you and your personal taste. It’s always a good idea to choose new features that match with your existing color schemes, with beloved pieces of furniture, or just fit your idea of what the home needs.

The idea is to build upon what is already there, rather than tear down and restart. Small changes are easier, faster and cheaper. Start there!

Make Changes Close to Closing Time

Some of the things you love about your home might not fare well on the market. Deferred maintenance and upgrades might still be worth making before you sell, even if you won’t be around to enjoy them yourself. 

As veteran real estate agents, we know what buyers are looking for (and paying for!). Certain styles and finishes get more money for sellers, that’s just the way it is. If you are thinking of selling your home any time soon, we are happy to consult with you on the best strategic improvements that will appeal to the broadest swath of homebuyers.

Selling your home is a huge step, and it’s a very personal process. Whether you invest in upgrades before you sell or leave things as-is, the important thing is that you take with you the memories of your life in your home, the times you cherished with the people you love. That will never change, whether your walls are white or grey or lime green. (We don’t recommend lime green.)

Money-Making Remodels to Consider

When it comes time to make renovation decisions, take the following suggestions as food for thought. 

Right off the bat, consider a prospective buyer’s first impression of your home.

Think of the appearance of your yard, the cleanliness of your home, arrangements, space, and lighting. Altogether, this makes a world of difference. 

Another piece that gets overlooked is the garage. We often let the garage get tattered and old as we focus on more significant projects in the home. Make sure to get around to it, though. 

A new garage door and a clean paint job could add thousands to your home’s value. Additionally, you should consider finishing your basement if your home has one and it’s unfinished. 

Many homebuyers want a home with bonus finished space like an attic or basement or den. It adds to the living space of your home, and finished areas improve what could otherwise be considered unsightly. 

If your house is fully finished, it will be more appealing to buyers, and to appraisers later on.

Are You Ready to Start Making Changes?

If you’ve been thinking of selling your home, start thinking about the problem areas that might benefit from some updating! There are many steps to the selling process, so the sooner you have a plan, the better.

Explore our site for more resources on selling, improving, and buying homes, and of course feel free to get in touch any time and start a no-pressure conversation to discuss your options!

Is Buyer Demand Causing Housing Prices to Rise? What You Need to Know in Fall 2020

 

The start of 2020 put California’s housing market into a big ol’ slump. The coronavirus pandemic led to strict stay-at-home orders enforced throughout the state. For a short time in March, the California housing market was essentially frozen in place.

 

In the proceeding weeks, the freeze began to thaw, and by the start of the summer the market was heating up. Buyer demand began to rise, sales were beginning to rise, and more homeowners came around to the notion that it actually might be a good time to sell. This sudden change of course was one of the largest monthly surges in almost 40 years.

 

Now, the question folks are asking is, “How long will it last?” Will housing prices continue to rise the rest of this year? Or is it too good to be true?

 

Are you curious about how buyer demand is impacting the housing market this year? Here’s everything you need to know for fall of 2020!

 

Housing Prices During the Pandemic

 

At the start of the pandemic, the housing market chugged along at a snail’s pace. While the most motivated buyers and sellers continued in their pursuits, many more elected to postpone their buying or selling for a later time when pandemic restrictions loosened.

 

Those who did buy during this time saw record-low mortgage rates. The pandemic caused mortgage rates to drop as low as 3.29% for a 30-year conventional mortgage, at the time a 50-year record low which has since been lowered even further.

 

While homebuyers enjoy these low mortgage rates, housing prices are rising due to limited availability of listings. Those looking to buy have a smaller selection of homes available to purchase, and what is available is selling for more money than ever due to increased demand. Because of this scarcity of listings, many buyers are eagerly waiting in anticipation for more sellers to bring their homes to market.

 

As is natural in economics, limited supply has led to an increase in prices. While rising prices have become the trend in the last decade, the rise has been even more forceful in 2020. In May of 2019, the median closing price in the United States was around $278,200 which grew about 2.3% by May of 2020.

 

For 3 continuous months, housing sales declined. It wasn’t until June that the housing market finally hit a turnaround point.

 

Home sales have spiked, particularly in existing homes, but also in new construction. From May to June of 2020, there was an increase of around 20% more home sales which includes condominiums, townhomes, and single-family homes. This is largely due to increased buyer demand.

 

While many buyers and sellers enjoy success in this recovering, booming market, some are wondering about what the Fall will bring. There have been second and third waves of the pandemic affecting different parts of the globe. What will the housing market look like for the rest of 2020?

 

Is the Housing Market Recovering?

 

June through August showed considerable promise in regards to a recovering housing market. Home sales all over the country continue to rise, as they did throughout the summer.

 

The country’s coasts are leading the recovery, showing greater sales than even before the pandemic hit in March. The end of July showed a rise in not only sales but in demand and price as well.

 

Is Buyer Demand Still Growing?

 

Buyer demand is continuing to grow as we enter the Fall Season. By the end of July, the demand index was almost 17 points above that of January. Analysts calculate this number by tracking search activity online.

 

Some may find this surprising, as house prices are rising and inventory remains low. But with rock-bottom mortgage rates, many homebuyers want to get in while it’s good. On the other hand, many home sellers are still waiting before putting their homes on the market.

 

Researchers believe buyer demand will continue to grow throughout the Fall of 2020. The biggest challenge sellers are facing is that a large number of them are also buyers.

 

Growing buyer demand and limited inventory can make finding the right new home to buy a challenging process these days. Some prospective sellers are finding it easier to refinance and renovate their current home than to find something better.

 

Other issues sellers face include health and safety concerns during the coronavirus, along with potential job loss given the tumultuous state of the economy.

 

Buyer demand will likely fade towards the end of the year, as it always does in the holiday season. But this fall, activity should remain very strong compared to the spring market. Millennial buyers will continue to make up a huge part of the buyer demand as they search for their first taste of home ownership.

 

Will current home buyer demand be sustainable throughout the rest of the year? If more sellers come to market this fall, buyer demand may be satiated. But if buyers are still fighting for a small supply of listings well into next year, then high demand isn’t going anywhere either.

 

Why Housing Prices are Rising

 

Like buyer demand, housing prices are also rising. Compared to the median home price in January, homes in  September are about 5.5 points above January prices.

 

What’s causing this rise in house prices? The main 2 factors influencing home prices are a record low housing supply and a growing buyer demand. The few sellers on the market feel more confident asking for more as they’re likelier to make a sale with such a large demand. Bidding wars are becoming more frequent.

 

Typically during an economic downturn, housing prices remain stagnant, or grow more slowly, or even fall. This year has been a clear exception, as housing prices have accelerated upwards throughout the summer.

 

This upward trend may slow later this year and early into next year. Future economic impacts remain to be seen, and a hit to the economy could slow the rate of buyer demand and increasing home values. In any case, it’s unlikely that home values will rise at such a quick pace for many more months to come, though they will likely continue to rise.

 

Changes in Home Sales

 

Since May, home sales have risen monthly by 16.6%. There has also been an increase this year of 6.3% since June of 2019.

 

Most buyers are looking for affordability and space. The combination of stay-at-home orders, working from home, and schooling from home, is driving people to look for more spacious places to live. Of course, this is a greater challenge given the limited inventory of active listings.

 

Listings are spending less time on the market compared to a year ago. Buyers and sellers are connecting and closing sales much faster than before.

 

Is Housing Supply Increasing?

 

Since the spring, supply of listings has been slowly increasing. Compared to years before, however, the supply is still growing at a much slower rate than in January. More sellers are re-entering the housing market, but with a certain amount of caution.

 

Some prospective sellers express concern that their homes are unlikely to sell due to social distancing. Some are unwilling to show their homes in person and others are waiting until the pandemic passes. After months of working safely according to state and local regulations, these fears are largely unfounded, though it’s always good to be safe.

 

The reopening of the United State’s economy plays a key role in the housing supply. The current trend is an increase in housing supply, but everything hinges at least in some part on the future twists and turns of the COVID pandemic.

 

Housing Market Predictions for 2021

 

The overall number of home sales in 2020 is likely to be significantly less than the year before.  Many houses will sell this fall, indeed, but the overall rate will likely drop to one not seen since the early nineties. 

 

Many analysts believe the economic cost of the pandemic will continue to burden the economy in 2021 and for years to come. The projections for the 2021 housing market have also lowered from 6.3 million to 6 million sales.

 

A few likely scenarios for the rest of 2020 and into 2021 include:

– Housing prices will continue to grow, but growth may slow

– Mortgage prices will almost certainly remain at record lows

– Housing availability will remain lower than normal, but should continue to rise through the fall

– Buyers will continue to prioritize affordability and space, both inside and out

– Buyer and seller confidence will continue to rise, barring any unfortunate developments in the pandemic

 

The unforeseen health crisis and its economic impacts will continue to influence buyer demand and listing supply. Some of the largest metro areas in California and throughout the United States have seen an increasingly tight inventory of listings in recent months. If more sellers decide to jump into the fray, this trend could reverse in a busy fall selling season.

 

The affordability of homes remains an ongoing struggle and will be an even greater challenge as prices rise. Before the COVID pandemic, many younger buyers struggled to find a home that fit their budget.

 

Unfortunately for them, housing prices will continue to rise for the rest of 2020. Newly constructed homes will not be much help, as homebuilders continue to focus on mid-high to high-end homes rather than affordable housing solutions.

 

The Housing Market is Looking Up

 

Since the lull in early spring, the housing market has been looking up. There have been glimmers of hope in the pandemic, giving the economy a chance to breathe. Uncertainties still abound, but buyer demand remains strong thanks to low mortgage rates.

 

If you’re looking to buy or sell a home this year, now is the time. Buyers can enjoy all-time low mortgages. Sellers can benefit from selling their homes at higher prices and potentially a faster rate than before the pandemic.

 

Are you looking for a home or planning to list yours? Do you know a friend or family member who is? Let’s connect for a no-pressure conversation. We’re happy to lend our expertise and carefully guide you through every step of the home-buying and selling process!